Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Binghamton killings show ignorance can be hell

Let’s face it. I’m ignorant and you’re ignorant.

Everyone is ignorant in some way. The great thing about life is that it is all about learning. With each thing that we learn, we overcome another thing that we were previously ignorant about.

‘Ignorance is bliss’ ‘- a line that many of us think of when we get into a sticky situation. If only we did not know fact A or fact B, maybe the situation would not have occurred. In a world that thrives on knowledge, it seems that those of us who inhabit this Earth are afraid of knowledge.

On April 3 in Binghamton, N.Y.,, ignorance was not so blissful at all. On this Friday, a Vietnamese employee that was about to be let go by his company, Shop-Vac, stormed into the offices of the American Civic Association and opened fire, killing 13 people.

As soon as we heard this story break, we developed stereotypes of the killer. We think that we have all of the knowledge to judge when knowledge is the one essential thing that we are missing.

The killer, Jiverly Wong, was a hardworking Vietnamese immigrant who was about to lose his job. Wong was also known as a loner. Now the stereotypes start clicking in our heads. He was a loner, thus anti-social. Due to this, he was unstable. It all makes sense. Only it doesn’t. There is still the question of ‘why?’

What we have here is only the tip of the iceberg. Also mentioned in the news stories was that Wong was made fun of because he couldn’t speak fluent English and he was a low income worker. If Wong had an emotional disorder, this clearly did not help.

However, being picked on and being not as well off as others is not a reason to take innocent lives. What Wong did was murder. Ultimately, Wong got what was coming to him for his murderous deeds. Death.

The question that must be asked is: could this have been prevented?

Perhaps if more people had paid attention to their surroundings, which included Wong, maybe this would not have happened. Maybe if he had not felt inferior to others because of a language barrier, he wouldn’t have felt it necessary to kill people.

It once again comes to that line of ‘Ignorance is bliss.’ There are millions of people in this world oppressed not only by others but by their own demons as well.

There are many reasons why a killer kills. Some people are just terrible humans and take pleasure in taking another’s life. Such was the case with 19th century outlaw Billy The Kid and 1960s psychopath Charles Manson. Others are driven off the edge of the cliff by a deadly cycle of oppression.

‘Too often we excuse those who are willing to build their own lives on the shattered dreams of others,’ said Robert F. Kennedy in his famous ‘Mindless Menace of Violence’ speech in 1968. This line epitomizes both sides of the equation for victim and killer alike. Some inhabitants of this world build our dreams on the shattered dreams of others.

Due to this feeling of inferiority, they reason out in their insecure world that they must fight back by shattering the dreams of others in order to redeem themselves.

What we need to do is not excuse this behavior. The only result is tragic loss all the way around. The killer does not become a martyr as he would hope. Rather, he becomes a forgotten body, known to the history books as merely one pathetic loser.

The real victims are the victims that the killer took with him. These people are ones that have had their short lives ended to young for no reason.

How does one not excuse this crime? You can kill the killer. However, that won’t bring back the lost loved ones back to their heart-broken families.

This is not an issue that can be resolved with pen and paper and enforcing a new law. An outlaw will be an outlaw no matter what the law declares.

What must be done, in all corners of this world, is to treat each other with compassion. We must care about each other. We are taught in schools that the world is a cutthroat business. Career-wise? Yes. Life in general? It doesn’t have to be.

In interacting with one another, we cannot subject ourselves to cutthroat methods. This leads to prejudices, hate and fear. The day that all of these factors combine to represent the majority of the world is the day when the world will end from humans destroying the race of mankind through a ‘mindless menace of violence.’

If there is to be any lesson taken from these tragic murders, let it be that nothing is accomplished when humans kill other innocent humans. It only further divides us from
each other.

In the end, ignorance is not bliss at all. We must embrace knowledge, not shun it. We must grow closer together and love one another as fellow family members of this Earth because we are all that we have.

Matt Kushi is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at [email protected].

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